Sleep Challenge: Better quality sleep for a stronger body and sharper mind
Before I started research for this sleep challenge, I admit I did not know all the benefits of good quality sleep. I just knew when I didn’t sleep long enough, I felt tired the next day (intuitive, right?).. but there is so much more to the story.
The health benefits of sleep are dependent on both the duration of sleep and the quality – meaning the time spent in each phase of sleep and the number of phases per 24-hours. Not sure what this all means? Let’s unpack it.
The image above is a sleep hypnogram which shows the phases of sleep a typical person experiences throughout the night. Each phase includes light sleep, deep sleep, transitional light sleep, and REM sleep. It repeats usually 5 times in a night and is approximately 90 minutes per cycle. That calculation gives the 7-9 hour recommendation of sleep per 24-hour period.
The two most beneficial phases of sleep are deep sleep which repairs the structural body (muscles, bones) and REM sleep which repairs the neurological network (brain). You must be asleep for neurons to recover. The brain cleans up metabolic byproducts during sleep and reorganizes the new information you learned that day. If your brain is filled up with the “memory garbage” because the cellular trash does not get taken out each night, your brain cannot function properly over time
When the body is deprived of experiencing all the phases of sleep for an adequate duration, any number of harmful effects can be seen in the body:
- a raging appetite during waking hours
- biological damage
- neurological disease
- a decline in immune function
- increased inflammatory response
- poor muscle recovery (muscles that have been worked do not rebuild)
- less creativity
- decline in memory function
- high blood pressure and heart disease
The items on the list above translate to a whopping $16 billion in healthcare costs in the US each year – just because the population does not get restorative sleep!
Did you know it is not normal to walk through the day like a zombie? That proper sleep can reduce the urge to wake up and urinate overnight? Did you also know that sleep deprivation can show up physically as belly fat from abnormally high cortisol levels, skin lesions, damaged DNA, kidney and liver dysfunction, and blood-sugar related diseases?
By now you see how important adequate sleep is so let’s start the process of improvement.
First, know your chronotype. It’s like your sleep personality – https://thepowerofwhenquiz.com
Make a note of your chronotype. Are you surprised by the result? I admit I was surprised! I read the descriptions of the chronotypes before I took the quiz and 100% thought I would be a wolf. As it turns out, I’m a bear – just like 55% of the population on this planet.
If you read this far but haven’t taken the quiz yet, no cheating. Go back and do the quiz. Here’s the link again. https://thepowerofwhenquiz.com
You’re going to need it as we progress through the challenge and it will only help your sleep improve.
The next thing you will need is a sleep tracker. If you have a Fitbit or other wearable device that tracks sleep cycles; that is perfect. If you don’t, go ahead and download a sleep tracking app that runs in the background on your phone. I like the app called Sleep Score (for iPhone). It’s free for 7-days. If this app is not available for your phone, try Sleep Cycle.
Use the link below to opt-in to the challenge info.